Nav: Home

Dietary supplement may help with schizophrenia

September 09, 2019

A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher.

In an editorial published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Professor David Curtis (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment and QMUL Centre for Psychiatry) suggests the readily available product could easily be incorporated into treatment plans, while calling for clinical trials to clarify the benefit and inform guidelines.

"Sarcosine represents a very logical treatment and the small number of clinical trials so far do seem to show that it can be helpful. It certainly seems to be safe and some patients report feeling better on it," he said.

"Sarcosine may be a helpful treatment for schizophrenia but we should be carrying out further studies in order to find out for sure."

Sarcosine naturally occurs in foods such as egg yolks, turkey and legumes, and can be bought as a dietary supplement, sometimes promoted as a 'brain health supplement', with various claims being made that are not all backed up by adequate evidence.

Professor Curtis writes that there is now good evidence from multiple lines of study that some patients with schizophrenia may have defects in the functioning of receptors for glutamate, a common neurotransmitter in the brain, and that sarcosine can help glutamate receptors to work better.

Researchers have been accumulating evidence that if these glutamate receptors did not function properly then people could develop psychosis and other symptoms of schizophrenia.

Professor Curtis and colleagues have recently added to the evidence, showing that genetic variants which damage this receptor increase the risk of schizophrenia.

The only risk identified so far seems to be that some people taking sarcosine to treat schizophrenia who are also on antidepressants may experience hypomania (disinhibition and euphoria), which Professor Curtis says highlights the importance of consulting with health professionals before taking sarcosine.

"Some studies have used it on its own as a treatment but I think the obvious thing to try first would be for patients to take it alongside their regular antipsychotic medication, in order to produce further improvement," said Professor Curtis.

He says that health professionals need to be aware of sarcosine so that they know how to respond if a patient asks them about it, given that it's increasingly being used as an alternative therapy.

"I would encourage psychiatrists to review the evidence, and while they may reach different conclusions, it seems reasonable to conclude that suggesting sarcosine to a patient with schizophrenia would be defensible and evidence-based.

"Because it is freely available and fairly cheap, there is nothing to stop somebody with schizophrenia from buying it and trying it themselves, which underscores the need for health professionals to get our heads around it. I would certainly warn them not to stop their regular medication and to continue following the advice of their psychiatrist," he said.
-end-


University College London

Related Schizophrenia Articles:

Unlocking schizophrenia
New research, led by Prof. LIU Bing and Prof. JIANG Tianzi from the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators have recently developed a novel imaging marker that may help in the personalized medicine of psychiatric disorders.
Researchers discover second type of schizophrenia
In a study of more than 300 patients from three continents, over one third had brains that looked similar to healthy people.
New clues into the genetic origins of schizophrenia
The first genetic analysis of schizophrenia in an ancestral African population, the South African Xhosa, appears in the Jan.
Dietary supplement may help with schizophrenia
A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher.
Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer
Schizophrenia may be related to the deletion syndrome. However, not everyone who has the syndrome necessarily develops psychotic symptoms.
Study suggests overdiagnosis of schizophrenia
In a small study of patients referred to the Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EPIC), Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that about half the people referred to the clinic with a schizophrenia diagnosis didn't actually have schizophrenia.
The ways of wisdom in schizophrenia
Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine report that persons with schizophrenia scored lower on a wisdom assessment than non-psychiatric comparison participants, but that there was considerable variability in levels of wisdom, and those with higher scores displayed fewer psychotic symptoms.
Recognizing the uniqueness of different individuals with schizophrenia
Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia differ greatly from one another. Researchers from Radboud university medical center, along with colleagues from England and Norway, have demonstrated that very few identical brain differences are shared amongst different patients.
Resynchronizing neurons to erase schizophrenia
Today, a decisive step in understanding schizophrenia has been taken.
Genetics researchers close in on schizophrenia
Researchers at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University have discovered 50 new gene regions that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.
More Schizophrenia News and Schizophrenia Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that's popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.   If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood.  To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here.  To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.  And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.   If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. And lastly, Tatiana Prowell's tweet that tipped us off is here. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.